Army Sgt. Ronald A. Kubik
Ronnie Kubik played electric guitar in a punk band during his high school days. He once came to school with a lime-green Mohawk, and a vice principal threatened to suspend him.
Using his own research, Kubik challenged the suspension all the way to the board of education — and won.
The next week, he cut off the Mohawk, having proved his point.
Kubik, of Brielle, N.J., was a 2006 graduate of Manasquan High School, where he wrote for the school newspaper, took acting classes, wrestled and played football. He learned to skydive, enjoyed whitewater rafting and was an avid fisherman.
Kubik was encouraged by his advanced placement teachers to attend law school, but he joined the Army instead. The 21-year-old died in combat April 23 in the Logar province of Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Benning.
"He accomplished a lot in a short period of time," said his father, Ronald Kubik. "I am going to miss my little fishing buddy."
He also is survived by his mother, Eileen Daly.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Laborde
John Laborde made it a priority to take care of those around him, whether they were family members or comrades.
At Thanksgiving, he didn't eat until everyone else had food. In Afghanistan, he made sure soldiers stayed hydrated in the triple-digit heat, and he lent them his phone and computer to talk with relatives on holidays. He also helped them register for classes to continue their education, said Lt. Col. Lawson Coapstick, who served with Laborde in the Army Reserve and called him "a soldier's soldier."
The 53-year-old from Waterloo, Iowa, collapsed after a physical training session and died of a heart attack April 22 at Kandahar Air Field. His unit was based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Laborde grew up and attended school in Marksville, La. His three decades of globetrotting military service began when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1975. He joined the Army Reserve in 1985, months before marrying his wife, Lori.
He enjoyed hunting, golfing, John Wayne movies and, as his daughter Tiffany recalled, fishing. But he had one rule: You had to bait your own hook. He also taught classes for high school students at his Catholic church.
Survivors include his five children.
Senior Master Sgt. James B. Lackey
James Lackey was a man of integrity who was dedicated to his family — exemplified by the way he helped his sister fight through her health problems, friends and family said.
"In every role that he had as a husband, father, son, young brother, he was loved by everyone in every capacity," said the Rev. Roger Peadro of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Fort Walton Beach. Lackey was a member of the church.
The 45-year-old airman from Green Cove Springs, Fla., was killed April 9 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, when the aircraft he was in crashed. He was assigned to Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle.
He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1983 and enlisted in the Air Force in 1986. He began his career as a maintenance crew chief before becoming a helicopter pilot.
"Flying was their priority, and nothing ever got in the way of that. They instructed with the intangible experience that only flight time could bestow, but more significantly, we lost men who inspired others, men of integrity who set the standards," Lt. Col. Matt Glover said, according to an Air Force press release.
He was referring to Lackey and Maj. Randell Voas, who also was killed in the crash.
Lackey is survived by his wife, Cassie, and sons, Brandon, Alex and Nick.
Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas E. Rivers Jr.
Thomas Rivers had no doubts in his mind that he wanted to be a Marine when he graduated, friends said.
Fred Yancey, who coached Rivers at Briarwood Christian School's varsity football team, said Rivers was mature and hard-working.
"I see Thomas Rivers as a young man of dedication, a leader of men, a big team, little me kind of guy," Yancey said. "I knew God had given Thomas a great plan as a U.S. Marine."
Rivers, 22, of Hoover, Ala., was killed by a roadside bomb April 28 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune. He graduated from the Briarwood school in 2007 and had previously served in Afghanistan.
Yancey said Rivers was always excited about becoming a Marine.
"They have a reputation of being the toughest and that's what drew Thomas to the Marines, I'm positive," Yancey said. "He wanted that tough challenge and he wanted the action."
Among Rivers' survivors are his parents and a sister.
Army Sgt. Jason A. Santora
When Jason Santora's parents were unable to throw his little sister, Gina, a Sweet 16 birthday party, he decided to throw her one using money from his pool cleaning job.
"I always said that every girl should have a big brother like him," Gina Santora said.
Santora, of Massapequa Park, N.Y., was serving his fourth tour of duty — his second in Afghanistan after two in Iraq — when his unit was ambushed April 23 in Logar province. Santora, 25, was shot and killed during the battle.
He had planned to make this his last mission and start recruiting for the Army in July. He was assigned to Fort Benning.
Santora graduated from Sachem North High School in 2003. He had been involved in the school's science research and aviation programs and graduated early, said school Superintendent James Nolan.
Current Sachem North students were so moved by Santora's death that they are creating a tribute to fallen soldiers.
"He was a hero," said his father, Gary Santora. "He died loving what he was doing."
Santora also is survived by his mother, Theresa Santora.
Army Sgt. Randolph A. Sigley
Randy Sigley Jr. dove into every task head-first, eager to put his muscular, tattooed frame to use to help his fellow soldiers.
The tattoos on Sigley's forearms kept him from ever becoming a Marine officer, under military rules. But that didn't stop him from putting everything he had into being a soldier, said his friend, Troy Walton. Walton said Sigley was a "massive" man who was in great shape.
"He was definitely a hard-charger; he was motivated to do everything," Walton said.
"I think he was pretty excited actually to go over to Afghanistan."
Sigley, 28, of Richmond, Ky., died April 18 in Bagram, Afghanistan. Kentucky National Guard Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht said Sigley's bunk mates found him dead in his bed one morning. The military is investigating his death.
Sigley graduated from Marion County High School in 2000 and then joined the Marine Corps in 2000. He had served a tour in Afghanistan with the Marines during that time.
Hilbrecht said Sigley had initially been assigned to a cargo vehicle but was given a special assignment to a mine-resistant vehicle known as an MRAP because of his "dedication to his unit."
Among Sigley's survivors are his mother, stepfather and sister.
Marine Lance Cpl. Curtis M. Swenson
At Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn., Curtis Swenson is remembered as a "quiet leader" and a good listener who befriended younger kids in the youth group.
Swenson was active in that group and enjoyed the outdoors — hunting, camping, fishing and skiing. He also was one of the Bethel Believers, the church softball team for which he had belted a grand slam in his last performance, along with another homer.
"If he was around friends, he always had a good sense of humor and was able to make a lot of people laugh," Bethel youth director Michael Beckmann said.
Swenson, 20, of Rochester, was killed by an explosive April 2 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and had served in Iraq in 2008.
Friends posting on a Facebook page said they had admired Swenson as a man and as a Marine.
He had enlisted in 2007, the year he graduated from Rochester Mayo High School. In class, Swenson was well-liked and a good student, Principal Tim Dorway said.
Survivors include his wife, Katie; parents, Dave and Kay Swenson; and his younger sister, Emily.
Air Force Maj. Randell D. Voas
Randell "Randy" Voas had talked as a youngster about becoming a podiatrist, but when he settled on a career, it turned out that his days at the office would be spent in the sky.
He flew Apache helicopters for the Army before switching to the Air Force. In his free time, he stayed closer to earth, skiing and running marathons.
"Randy was just one of those guys that was always there," said Steve Lyngdal, a friend, fellow runner and former classmate at Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, Minn. "He was solid and steady."
His father, Dwaine, said Voas was a dedicated pilot and family man with a dry sense of humor and "a stare that could stop a dime."
The 43-year-old from Lakeville, Minn., was one of two airmen who died April 9 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, when their aircraft crashed. He was assigned to Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle.
He had joined the Army after getting a biology degree from the University of Minnesota in 1989.
"He was serving his country," Dwaine Voas said. "He was proud to do it."
Survivors include his wife, Jill, and two children.
Marine Sgt. Frank J. World
Frank World never met his daughter, Lilly, but gave her a nickname. And it's one that will stick, said his wife, Beth.
"He was going to call her 'Lilly-Bear' and he said that she was going to have him wrapped around her fingers," his wife said.
World, 25, was in the sixth year of an eight-year commitment to the Marines when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He died April 1, about three months after Lilly was born.
He previously had served two tours in Iraq. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.
The Tonawonda, N.Y., resident graduated from the Riverside Institute of Technology in 2003. He had earned a black belt in tae kwon do and enjoyed rock climbing. He also taught himself to play guitar and composed his own songs and lyrics.
Beth World said she feels him watching over her, and his brother believes that's true.
"My brother was solid in his faith and firm in his beliefs, so there is no doubt that he is our angel up above watching down on us," Larry World said. World also leaves behind a 3-year-old son, Jacob.
Navy Lt. Miroslav Zilberman
Miroslav Zilberman moved with his parents from Ukraine to a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, in the early 1990s. They wanted to get him away from the possibility of forced military service to a place that promised a better life.
But Zilberman, who went by Steven, always admired the service of his grandfather, Gregory Sokolov, who was a major in the Soviet Army in World War II. After graduating from Bexley High School in 1997, Zilberman decided he wanted to defend his adopted country and became a U.S. Navy pilot.
Zilberman, 31, was returning from a mission in Afghanistan on March 31 when his E-2C Hawkeye began having mechanical problems. He ordered his three crewmen to bail. The plane crashed into the Arabian Gulf.
Zilberman's body was never recovered, and he was declared dead. But his crew mates all survived.
"Lt. Zilberman was an exceptional Naval Officer and pilot who embodied the best of what America represents," said Capt. Roy Kelley.
Zilberman was based at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. While in the Navy, he earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
He is survived by his wife, Katrina, and children, Daniel, 4, and Sarah, 2.
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